What Can Cause Puffy Toes?

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  • Written By: Marissa Meyer
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2019
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Swelling of the toes may be caused by trauma, physical strain, or an underlying medical condition. Broken bones or bruised ligaments and tendons following blunt trauma often results in puffy toes. Tendinitis and muscle inflammation frequently affect athletes and those who engage in exercise involving the legs. Other physical issues that may be responsible for enlarged toes include gout, infection, allergic reaction, blood clot, and arthritis. Some types of toe puffiness may be attributed to ill-fitting footwear or environmental irritants.

Traumatic injury to the toe often occurs when something heavy is dropped on the toe, or the foot collides with an object during physical activity. Broken bones and bruising can cause puffy toes, and an x-ray will often be used to determine the severity of the injury. Strained ligaments may also cause swelling when the trauma causes the toes to bend or stretch in an unnatural fashion.

Those who are physically active may gradually strain the toes, especially when they haven't properly stretched before exercise, or are working out too strenuously. Puffy toes caused by gradual strain may not be immediately obvious, and the injury may be severe and painful before the swelling is noticed. Inflammation of tendons, the tissue that connect the bones in the toes, may cause visual puffiness and pain as can trauma to the sacks of fluid that lay between tissue and bone. Joints in the toes may also swell and become tender to the touch.


Puffy toes that cannot be attributed to physical injury or strain may be the result of a medical disorder. Swollen toes are frequently associated with gout, a condition in which excess uric acid crystallizes in the joints and tendons, resulting in toes that are puffy, red, and hot to the touch. Other medical causes include arthritis, infection, and blood clots. A physician may extract fluid from the affected joint to determine the cause, and swelling from such conditions can usually be cured or controlled with medication or surgery.

Sometimes common irritants — such as allergens, hot weather, and restrictive footwear — can cause puffy toes. Allergies may be able to be controlled with medication or avoidance of triggers. Those who suffer from toe swelling without a medical explanation will often be advised to wear loose-fitting socks and shoes, and to stay barefoot whenever possible. An orthopedist or podiatrist may be able to recommend special hosiery and footwear designed to reduce swelling and promote circulation.


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Post 3

@bluedolphin-- Yes, gout is very painful and uncomfortable. My dad has it and I know what he goes through when a gout attack occurs. It's definitely not something that can be ignored or misread. It makes itself obvious.

Actually, my dad only has a gout attack when he eats things he shouldn't be eating. Some foods cause a lot of uric acid in the body which causes the uric acid crystals that make toes look swollen and puffy. When he follows his diet closely, he doesn't get a gout attack.

Post 2

@literally45-- Have you been checked out for gout? I think gout is a rather painful condition though and it prevents one from moving his or her toes. So it doesn't sound like you have gout.

Do you have any chronic conditions like diabetes? Or are you on any medications?

There are actually various possible causes of puffy toes. When the feet and ankles are also puffy, the potential cause list increases. Conditions that cause poor blood circulation and nerve damage like diabetes can cause swelling in the feet. Medications, especially blood pressure medications can cause puffy toes and feet as a side effect.

There are also more serious conditions like kidney problems that can cause these symptoms. I think you need to see a doctor about this at the earliest.

Post 1

I don't have an injury or allergies. But my toes, feet and ankles have been puffy for the past one week. It seems to be a little bit better in the morning and becomes more puffy in the evening. What might be the cause? I don't have any pain or any other symptom.

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